Inter Lose At The Morumbi But Get To The Final.By: Mauro | August 6th, 2010
Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is the way a semifinal of a major competition should be played. In front of almost 60,000 screaming fans, vuvuzelas blowing (That’s right U de Chile!), flares filling the stadium with smoke and on the pitch one of the best matches I’ve seen since the end of the World Cup.
I thought Inter were going to come out and take care of this one early but it took them a long while to find their feet (if they ever found them) and it didn’t help that a completely different São Paulo team showed up last night.
Last night, the local side were strong and decisive, taking over the midfield from the four or five players I mentioned in my match preview yesterday and spent the majority of this match in Inter’s half of the pitch.
São Paulo were tough and disciplined on defense so despite Inter’s sporadic and dangerous attacks, it seemed the local side had everything under control.
But Inter had their moments. When given just a few inches, you could see how dangerous they were with Andrés D’Alessandro pulling the strings in the midfield and Alecsandro and Tinga up front, they definitely were a handful for the Sao Paulo defenders.
And when you would least think it, off a nothing free kick, Inter’s starting keeper Renan, lets a ball get away from him that he should have been able to control. Going up for a ball inside the six yard box unfettered, it bounced off his chest and to a spot where only 6′ 4″ Alex Silva could put a head on it. 1-0 to São Paulo, and the stadium erupts.
With this result, São Paulo are forcing penalty kicks and they went to the dressing room at half time having not given Inter another inch. In fact, I don’t think Inter ever got the ball into São Paulo’s half with any real danger.
With Inter’s defense unsettled after Renan’s blooper and the announcer’s questioning Renan as the starter over more experienced Argentine Roberto Abbondanzieri (Jorge Fossati’s first choice as keeper) who was on the bench tonight, it seemed São Paulo was en route to the LIbertadores final. But in the 50th minute or so, off a free kick from D’Alessandro and a fantastic Alecsandro back heel, Inter managed to get the equalizer on the night. 1-1, all tied up. With this result Inter are in the final and São Paulo need two goals to advance.
The equalizer really put this match into overdrive. On what seemed like the next play, São Paulo found the go ahead goal. On another highlight for Renan’s blooper reel, he punched a ball out of the penalty area only to give the ball right back to a Sao Paulo midfielder who touches it to Ricardo Oliveira (ex-Betis) who was just onside and 2-1 to São Paulo. Only one goal away from the final.
With this goal, the defenses opened up and you saw two teams desperately looking for the next goal to finish the match off. Hernanes took São Paulo by the scruff of the neck and commanded them on and the Inter midfield strung passes to answer back. Then Tinga earned himself two yellow cards on the night leaving his side with only 10 men 12 minutes from time. But the final score on the night was already set.
Final score: São Paulo win 2-1.
With this result, Inter advance on away goals. I had this match ending 1-1 and I was the happiest guy on the planet for approximately 2 or 3 minutes and then Oliveira scored São Paulo’s second. Inter also earned the right to play the FIFA Club World Cup in December since Chivas is only an invitee to this tournament and cannot represent CONMEBOL as they are not from a member country.
So that was it. The first leg of the final will be played August 11th in Mexico. It’s at Chivas’ new stadium, Estadio Omnilife in Jalisco which seat 45,500 peeps. The return leg is scheduled for August 18th at the Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre where you know the fans bring the funk.
Side note: Thiago Ribeiro, of Cruzeiro, is the leading goal scorer of this competition with 8 goals to his credit. Only Alecsandro and Giuliano, both Inter players, and Omar Bravo, of Chivas, can catch him but they’d need to score 4 goals a piece over the next two legs.
Stay tuned. In the meantime, check out the Copa Sudamericana blog for info on matches taking place earlier next week. There have been some exciting matches, most notably the Defensor Sporting vs. Olimpia match and the Deportivo Quito vs. Universidad de San Martin match.